An American man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges of hate crime, for brutally hitting an 82-year-old Sikh with a steel rod outside a gurdwara in the US state of California two years ago.
Piara Singh had just finished preparing meals for the lungar (community kitchen), when Gilbert Garcia spotted him outside a Southwest Fresno gurdwara. Garcia beat up 82-year-old Piara Singh outside the Nanaksar Gurdwara in Fresno city with a steel rod while he was leaving the place after saying his daily prayers, The Fresno Bee newspaper reported on Tuesday. Garcia screamed something about the Taliban and Muslims as he attacked Singh.
Local prosecutors treated the incident on 5th May, 2013 as a hate crime.
Mr Singh was hospitalised for more than a week with head wounds, broken ribs and lung lacerations.
After the attack on Mr Singh, Garcia also made inflammatory remarks about Muslims, prosecutor Tim Donovan was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“Justice has been served. Not only does the victim and his family have closure, but so does the entire Sikh community because there was an acknowledgement that a hate crime had occurred,” Ike Grewal a local Sikh community activist told local media outlets.
According to Grewal, Garcia made racial slurs about Muslims and told Singh: “I’m going to destroy your mosque”. Garcia was arrested half-hour after the attack and has been under custody since the attack.
Sikhs he said, continue to be mistaken as terrorists because the media tends to show instances of terrorist attacks and images of the terrorists wearing turbans.
“This was a totally senseless crime. We are hard working people who are part of the American fabric,” Mr Grewal added.
In December 2013, Garcia was sent to the state hospital after doctors in the jail concluded he was unable to assist in his defence.
Garcia returned to the Fresno County Jail in November 2014 after doctors gave him clearance to appear in the court for the trial.
“Garcia agreed to plead no contest to a felony charge of injuring an elderly person and admitted it was a hate crime,” Mr Donovan said.